The Importance of Dinner

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October is a total faceplant. There’s really no other way to say it, is there?

See, back in the good ‘ole days, this month was just about scouting out the neighbor who gave out the King Size Peanut M&Ms for Halloween.

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Now, Fall is like HELLO I’M HERE, and we really have no choice but to open the door. Somehow, pumpkins are ending up in lattes. People are talking about being Nicki Minaj for Halloween. And the weather just went from sweaty to sweater. (I couldn’t even begin to tell you what that is in Celsius.)

School/work/life is feeling undeniably fo’real, and we’re all sorta pretending that we have our $#!% together. Except if we’re being honest, we don’t, and it’s totally cool.

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We’re really just trying to make it through Monday/Tuesday, with all our good humor in tack. Autumn, dudes! This shindig is a dinner sort-of-conversation.

That’s life on the lately, speaking of which. Last night, I had dinner with 3 strangers, 2 friends, and 1 Georgetown VIP. It was one of the best things I’ve done in awhile–if for no reason other than that it was out of routine.

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Routine is a tricky bugger. My routine includes a mind-blowing amount of peanut butter banana oatmeal, my favorite well-worn boots,  chapstick for dayz, Gmail inbox’in, walks to and from the business school, feedly, iced coffee in mason jars, friends, infinity on a simple gold chain, Todoist, messy ponytails, yoga gone digital, Pandora Film Scores, and a Spotify playlist or two.

But that’s a double-edged sword. And sometimes I wonder if we can become too caught up in our comfortable routines of who we see, what we do, and where we go. Suddenly, the daily becomes the weekly becomes the monthly. Routine is comfy! I don’t know about you, but comfy reigns supreme in my world…right up there next to chocolate-covered pretzels.

As I walked home last night, I began to consider the importance of dinner. Homegirl say what?

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Dinner, as it occurred to me last night, is a really big effin deal. You’re totally raising an eyebrow, but roll with the punches. Let’s jump in!

Breakfast is laid-back; lunch is casual; and coffee is lovely. For each though, we’re busy keeping it funky fresh. We got a whole day to do!

Dinner, however, is different. It equips us with opportunity to go beyond the whaddup?’s, the how’ya doin?’s, the yo what’s good?’s of our daily routines. Amongst friends and strangers alike, dinner invites us to stay a little longer. To hangout and call halftime. Conversation is a welcome guest!

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There’s something inherently charming about the onset of nightfall. The security blanket of night allows us to be a little bolder in our actions and words. With an evening curtain of darkness, we find a certain cozy comfort that nudges us to loosen the tie of 9-5 life and the straight-laced obligations of being human.

That’s not to say all dinners are formal, lengthy, or even the same.

Sunday suppers feel familial. And the word “supper” mainly just sounds old-fashioned–like Momma would be proud of our lingo. Sunday is the high five between tradition and straight chillin’. There’s couches and really good-bad TV shows and ignoring our total case of the impending Mondays.

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Wednesdays are somewhere between Grilled Cheese-ville and “Just tryna make it.” Quick and dirty. Eaten amidst the disarray of a week. Mismatched dishware is the perfect match for this crazy hump day situation.

Friday dinners are my favorite. They’re all over the dang place. But always with the people I most want to see after a long week. Fridays are when I make the effort to see you and when I hope you make the same effort too.

It’s when you’re willing to treat yo’self because surviving an entire week just doesn’t get enough credit. Fridays are for friends. For bottomless wine, bad chinese food, great pizza, solid beer, unbounded conversation, and the kind of homeskillets that will endure all of the above.

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Here’s the truth: these musings are wacky with a whole lot of whatttttttt?! It’s just a penny for our midweek thoughts and the gentle incentive to reconsider an evening meal.

So consider this your open invitation to dinner. It’s my way of saying, “Hey, you’re great!” Because that’s the truth. Let’s get out of our dang routines, and go back to the basics of good food + good company.

This dinner is mainly casual and mostly just an excuse for whatever strikes our fancy. Maybe we’ll straight chill over Chipotle. Maybe we’ll linger past the plate and into life talk territory. Maybe we’ll figure out how not to completely faceplant through October.

Orrrrrr maybe we’ll trade secrets about which neighbor is giving out the King Size Peanut M&Ms?

HOLLA. Yes, let’s hope it’s that one.

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5 Things Learned from a Weekend in New York

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I’m the girl flying on a swing in New York with an everything bagel in one hand…and a reckless disregard for limits in the other hand.

The California kid who is young, wild, and maybe a little too free for her own good. The spontaneous traveler who has a Mary Poppins bag. The wanderer who doesn’t race against time, but right along with it.

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Can we talk about New York City? IT’S WACKY. But ahem, good wacky.  A chaos of urban mankind that is (dis)organized just so. It has an energy about it.

And I’m hopelessly smitten.

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That makes total sense, if we don’t think about it for too long. Cut me some slack, and let’s do this Sunday thing:

1. /// We talked a lot about passion & purpose this weekend.
About discoveries found and love lost.

Don’t freak out about this! We’re allowed to be human. The sum of these conversations shows us how a person can be your anchor and axis. But also how the absence of such a person can throw you off balance. It’s true – we’re all just trying to make it! To keep our balance, in spite of the curveballs up life’s sleeve. To feel like what we’re doingwhat we love in some way, shape, or form.

For me, short trips are a subtle reminder of all this. It’s a hint at what and who matter most to us. The urgency of time means that conversations tend to dive beneath surface level chatter. I hope you know how much I appreciate these conversations.

I left New York City today, smiling but also wistful and wondering if this was the one that got away.

If this feels a lot like vulnerability, that’s because it is. The truth is bonkers scary! Let it be.

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2. /// It’s hard not to compare San Francisco and New York.

I’m particularly guilty of this, fo’real! The two harbor similarities, which make it easy to pit the cities against one another.

Butttttt it’s still all sorts of apples : oranges. To compare them is to compartmentalize two anomalies.  Well, tits man. We can do mo’bettah :)

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3. /// A bit about career & the job world. 

Everyone I know seems to be hunting for a job or starting a new one. I feel you, friends! Naturally, this is a hot topic ‘on the noggin. It’s a whole lot to wrap your head around! I wrote Chapter One-and-a-Half  as a sort of response to the question, “So what are you doing with the rest of your life?” I wrote because I was feeling the pressure of uncertainty and discomfort that comes with not knowing what comes next. New York, I’ve begun to realize, is a magnet for those figuring out what’s next.

Note: The only thing I purport to know certainly is that I don’t know anything for certain. It’s like we’re all looking for that singular “right answer” — only to realize there is no one right answer. To all on this Struggle Bus, here’s a few other pieces of perspective I’ve found helpful:

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4. /// I’m a go-getter who likes to get to the go!

{skip if you don’t care about places to go in NYC}. Before leaving for the weekend, I asked friends near and far for their go-to grinds in the Big Apple. I traipsed around NYC both solo and in good company. In case you’re headed to the city soon, here’s my own shortlist of awesome:

  • Brooklyn Waterfront, Pier 2 (Brooklyn): My new favorite place in New York. On Sundays, Smorgasburg is held here. It’s nature x kickback, design x big-kid-at-heart playgrounds. And on a sunny day, I promise you that there is abso-freaking-lutely nothing better. Good vibes through the roof!
  • Brooklyn Bagel Co (Chelsea, multiple locations): I’m a bagel snob. And I’m here to tell you that this Everything bagel + cream cheese is  the best bagel in NYC. It’s a game changer. And would I lie to you about this? I think you know the answer to that.

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  • The High Line (Chelsea): The walk I’ll never tire of. It’s a wonderful place to wander. Or a choice locale to hangout with friends.
  • Num Pang (Midtown East, multiple locations): Order the coconut tiger shrimp banh mi sandwich, if you know what’s good for you.
  • El Almacen (Brooklyn): My first ever Argentine restaurant. Ambiance to write home about. Meat lover’s paradise.
  • Long Island City Waterfront (LIC) – Best kept secret. Take the ferry and go at night — it’s a breathtaking view with a million twinkling lights.

{{Continue New York City recommendations HERE}}

5. /// Have friends, will travel.

This is one of life’s magical bottom lines. High fives to the homies who got your back, no matter where you go. “Making the effort” is a big time player on the F*CK YES list.  Appreciation is easier said than done for most. So to all the friends who housed, helped, hi’d, hey’d, hungout with, and hugged me this weekend — thanks for being RAD. You’re totally the real deal.

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I hope your weekend was super swell and that your Monday isn’t too daunting!

This week might get a littttttle out of hand. And that’s okay. We might struggle a bit to find our balance — our person, our career path, our whatcha-ma-callit…chill time?! The humanity of New York can attest that we’re not alone in trying to figure it all out.

Let’s just take this whole dang enchilada one day at a time. And remember that anything is possible with an everything bagel in hand.

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The Art of Real Talk

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Can we talk about real talk? I’m fairly sure that I’ve mentioned these two words at least 3.7 million times. It’s my first language, after all! But a quick rundown helps us all figure out what’s up.

At it’s core, Real talk (n.)  is the art of straight up communication. It’s a fast departure from linguistic eloquence, guarded pretenses, and even/often politeness too. It falls somewhere at the crossroads between forthright honesty x uninhibited authenticity.  Friends are a necessity of this situation. Because duh.

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All this to say that real talk is clutch but ironically rare. Our day-to-day words are forever in masquerade. They ensure that we aren’t too blunt, too clueless, too politically incorrect, too judged, too “basic,” too in danger of hurting others’ feelings, too frivolous, too awwwwwwwkwaaaard.

It’s nothing short of A WHOLE LOT to consider, no? Real talk is our respite from it all. It’s our dance-like-nobody’s-watching form of conversation!

Side note: Donuts are a prerequisite of this discussion. That’s just life on the real….because Sunday // because September. 

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So let’s do this dance! I’ve been thinking about illusions lately. What you see vs. what you get.

The above photos of my desk, friends, and food are an honest illusion. It’s my admission to you that behind every pretty picture is a pajama-clad HOT MESS. (That’s me!) Perspective, please–here’s what’s hanging out in my thoughts:

  1. Social media is a poignant example. We’ve put ourselves on constant camera, on mic, on tape. Oy vey, dude! Selective portrayal has become a really unreal phenomenon.  These thoughts of a millenial (not me) on social media bubbled up from my bookmarks, see: A 20-something’s Take on Social Media. 
  2. Beauty intrigues me. And I still haven’t quite figured out whether to consider makeup a help or hindrance to that. This Ted Talk by a makeup artist adds a few thoughts to the equation. Because we’re in the business of real talk: I honestly do wonder if a wild streak of vanity is responsible for my curiosity.
  3. Let’s breakdown the why of FUCK YES. A good chuckle and an even better thought piece. It’s a superb argument for why the grey area isn’t really so illusory. Relationships happen to be the topic, but I’d argue that it applies to this whole dang shabang we call life.
  4. I’ve taken precisely 2 ballet classes in my life. And dear god, it may’ve been the definition of comedy. But the NYC Ballet Company surprised me with this intersection of tragedy and art. Illusion of 9/11 rebirth in the best way. Not just for the dance-inclined. Give ‘er a watch (or two)!
  5. Vanity Fair’s announcement of The New Establishment 2014 felt funky. Or I didn’t know how to feel about it? Two realizations: the list is reeeeeeeal heavy on tech and reeeeeeeal light on women.
  6. Joy, whose corner of the Internet I absolutely love, reposted “Eating: A Manifesto.” Hey ladies & gents! It’s important. Really, really important. Skinny is a weighty subject and an even weightier illusion. But the truth is, guilty doesn’t look good on anybody. Let it go; let it flow.

In other news, I haven’t even touched my homework. But well…I’m afraid that the future will have to wait. I’ve been too busy dancing like the 2:27pm still-pajama-clad crazy fool that I currently am. Whoa nelly. This confession is upfront, unapologetic, and just a tad awkkkkwarrrrd.

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Best of all though, it’s the art of straight up communication–real talk in its finest form. :)

love & other hugs,

l

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The State of September

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Can we admit that we’re totally doggie paddling through September? I can’t find a #2 pencil to save my life. Chipotle is turning into a food group. Oops-I-did-it-again 3am bedtimes are, well, oops. And then there’s this maniac muffin bender.

I mean, if honesty is the best policy, let’s just throw it aaaallllll out there. Really, I’m not above it.

This is the State of September. Reporting live from Senioritis-ville, USA.

I hope this pops over to greet you on a mellow Wednesday. If you’re reading this, consider us friends. Because we can! If you’re reading this, I hope you give a holler. That you tell me what’s up and give me the lowdown.

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I might call you after this, or you might send a message using what many’a Mom/Dad keep calling “that texting thing.” They might send it in ALL CAPS or with 10 pictures of Uncle Hank’s new goldfish or with their signature at the end “-Mom / -Dad.” Just in case you forgot it was them.

Okay, so we may all be doggie paddling. Mom/Dad included.

Embrace this hot mess of a mid-week night’s dream. Tell me about yours.

Here’s mine:

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A year ago I was in France. And now, I’m officially a French minor. Which may or may not be translated as a sign to future people-who-care that I speak “croissant” fluently. It’s a fact, but I still Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

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Nomad is fast becoming my middle name. I’ve moved back and forth 14 times in the past 3 years. Exploring is my nirvana! But being in a constant state of on-the-go makes permanence of place feel elusive. Everywhere is new and exciting but never truly yours. After 7 years, I finally made a room my own.

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It’s not so much defined by place as it is by the essentials – the salt and pepper of my life. Ya know what’s a mind-bender? Figuring out what your personality would look like if boiled down to a design. Mine is minimalist, green and verdant. Vaguely reminiscent of the borderline between Earth and ocean. Like the outdoors…but indoors.

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• You know by now that the Farmers’ Market is my happy place. Yo, wanna know a secret? Food-loving as I may be, it’s not the food that gets me. It’s the universal language behind it. Do you see those smiles on other people’s faces? That’s why I’m smiling.

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• My voice straight PEACED out this weekend. Losing my voice is aggravating and infuriating and inefficient…but oddly welcome.

Real talk: Losing your voice may very well be the universe’s clue to shut up and listen. Because that’s how the cookie crumbles. Life is lived and played both silly and reckless. Jumping into traditions and throwing in a come-to-Jesus every now and then for good measure.

• I’m hit by a craving of real intellectual engagement. That’s not a snub to Georgetown, as this article might suggest. It’s just me…doing me. I’m considering learning Spanish via Duolingo. And maybe a crash course in coding via Code Academy too. Heyo!

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• Songs? Song for Zula (Phosphorescent) and this end-of-summer mixtape

•  I’m reading Me Before You. (Kindle is a gamechanger!) The book reminds me of this. Because scary as death appears, it reminds us how to live.

Wednesday just got 10 feet deeper. Just keep swimming?

I’ll be the girl rightttttt over thereeee. You know — the one doggie paddling right there with you.

love & other hugs,
l

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So This is Summer & “The Future”

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I’m definitely maybe head over heels for August.

Seriously, I’m over here square dancing with the dog days of summer, while the rest of the folks in the US are egging on their air conditioner with chants of “DOWN WITH THE HUMIDITY.”

Or so I’m told.

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We can agree to disagree on the AC.

But I’m sure we can all agree on the wonders of summer’s finale…starring shorts, watermelon slices, barbecues (which we all know is really spelled bbq), beach trips, iced coffee with too much cream, iced tea with too much goodness (…not), lazy evenings, open windows, red sangria, iiiiiiiceeeee creeeeeammmmm, warm nights, bonfires, and sunshine every which way.

Plus, just hanging out! Hanging out, tuning in, and taking five like we do so well.

See, this is why we’re friends.

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Speaking of which, hey friends! Let’s hang.

I’m staring at that funny little in-between square in the face again. But this time it feels welcome, maybe even cordial.

It’s been less than one week since I left San Francisco & Google, and it’s less than one week until I start my senior year at Georgetown.

Whoa there – it’s a LIFE SANDWICH! With a whole lot of good stuff smushed in between two major contenders.

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Suddenly, everybody seems to want to know about those two major contenders.

Every conversation is peppered with questions about what happened and what’s going to happen. About living in San Francisco, about Google, about senior year, and about “the future” beyond.

Pause: “The future” should be in obligatory air quotes at all times.

You feel me? I’m talking ’bout those quotes where you unceremoniously wiggle your fingers mid-air to demonstrate just how ludicrous something is. Totally that kind!

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Long story short: life is good. Google was a different kind of great; home is what the doctor ordered; and my final year at Georgetown, I imagine, will be nothing short of swell.

Summer in the Bay and a second internship at Google surprised me. Sure, there were still all the crazy Security shenanigans, Google Glass demos, five star food, coffee had, etc.

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But if you were hanging ’round these parts for this post, you know that this summer was a marked changed from last. It was a gamechanger plus two…but in a completely new way. Ya dig?

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I lived in the Mission district on Dolores Park with two amazing roommates, A and N. I hustled erryday with A, trekked to Sonoma wine country with N, dinner’d with L, enjoyed burritos with M.

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I ventured to the Golden Gate Bridge, hiked Lands End, brunched with unapologetic enthusiasm, survived Outside Lands with P and just started figuring it out. San Francisco is wonky, but then again, so are we.

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I settled into a groove with home, work, and people, straddling the permanence of routine and the transience of summer. Does that mean we’re ‘big kids’ now? I’m into it.

Roomie and resident baller, A, aptly coined the phrase “learning to adult”© to represent this bizarre midline between straight up kiddo and grown up. It’s an education in its own right. And a sincere reminder that good friends are really the cure-all. Even and especially when your tenacity is down for the count.

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Meanwhile, home has been about the simple things. Friends who’ve been there since the diaper days, and family who can accept that a pound of blueberries is not safe around me.

Read between the lines: I’ve assumed a nonstop faceplant on the beach and belly flop position in the waves. I’m grappling to remember the last time I wore real-people-clothes (not bathing suits or pajamas). And the couch and I are a little too friendly. Hubba hubba.

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That’s the TL;DR version. I hope you’re doing your thang and doing it well. That you’re learning to adult (aren’t we all?) and learning it well. That you, like me, are not trading these last few sips of summer for too much of “the future.”

Because we got this. And let’s not forget: It’s all in “air quotes” anyway.

love & other hugs,
L

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Best Kept Simple

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Let’s talk bold decisions.

Like the fact that I’ve successfully learned to bike with no hands…confessions of a multi-tasking nomad. Or the fact that pizza has been the primary food group of exactly 4 out of 6 of my last meals. Or the fact that I bought the kind of dress that means BUSINESS, knowing full well this pizza situation.

Because heck yes, we can. Nobody said we couldn’t; I said we could.

(How can you argue with something like that? Answer: Ya can’t.)

That’s my life update in a nut shell. What’s yours?

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Let’s put real life on hold for a hot second.

Don’t look at me like that. Rules be damned! Especially those involving pizza.

My hair is long and summer-streaked, flushed with the same sunshine that is presently high-five’ing my dimples. These last few days caught me by surprise–smack dab in the middle of July’s bizness. We weekend’d…oh yes we did.

We did Saturday right: strolling hand-in-hand with the kind of people that you hope never leave and the kind of scenery that you hope never ends. We celebrated a birthday three times…because once just isn’t enough. Trouble. Nothing but trouble.

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And of course, we Sunday’d. The fun-sies! The necessities! All of the above.

We coffee’d and parked ourselves in the park (Dolores) like a lazy day demands.  Chatted and chilled and bought that crazy impulse buy. And we cleaned our bed sheets. Because freeessshhh is funky fresh. (Who knew learning-to-adult smells like spring flowers?)

Fist pump. Hip bump. It’s all good.

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You’re totally caught off guard by this girl talking.

Here’s the thing though: I know ambition fancies the future, not the right-this-hot-second. Granted, I’m a thinker and an occasional over-thinker. A dreamer and a frequent over-dreamer. But today, I have no interest in being either.

I’m feeling that familiar smile hanging around my lips, and for once, I’m just content to say that’s enough. To be with the people responsible for that very smile. To laugh at and with the beloved bozos I call friends. To traipse around this wild and weird city.

And to embrace that right now, it’s all best kept simple.

LC

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The Things You Should Know About a Summer in San Francisco

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Someone asked me yesterday about how often I blog and the last time I had. I turned a little rosy and sheepish, like a kid that just got caught swiping cake batter from the bowl.

(me..totally me)

Truth be told, writing is not something I like to do on a schedule or on-demand. Back in the days of “legit” blogging, I did just that. And let me tell you, it usually sucks more than an overenthusiastic informercial vacuum. Sure, I do write formally all the time. But haven’t we determined that janky is far more fitting for me?

‘Definitely maybe’ is my trademark tune. Barefoot hoppin & beach boppin are my normal. And Casual Friday is really every day on my calendar. Yeah dude! is the answer. It really is.

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So let’s talk. Just casual–you and me.

First you, then me. Because guests first, always duh.

How are you? This is always my first question to a person. Authentic is timeless. And while Instagram may welcome filters, conversation is a different ballgame. It matters to me that real talk is just that. Because I hope we mean what we say! I truly do.

Me?

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This summer has been rad with a capital R. But so incredibly different than I would’ve guessed. Gimme a sec to explain.

Last summer was crazy to the fullest extent, but it taught me more about myself than I ever could have imagined. It was the perfect collision of bold intention and spontaneous difference that made for an unforgettable shabang and story.

In coming back to the Bay this summer, I’m grateful for the knowledge I have under my belt. Armed with good experience + bad jokes, I’m finding that I have a guiding trajectory and understanding of “how stuff works.”

Past experiences allow you to dive deep and fast, without the worry that you won’t know how to breathe when you plunge underwater.

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But while the past can be a propeller, it can also be an anchor too. If you’ve never experienced something before, it’s new and exciting. But if you experience something twice, it’s not immediately new and exciting the second time. It’s just “different.”

Not “bad-different.” Just a sophomore adjustment that requires unlearning some of what you know to allow new experience to breathe in.

It’s easy to reminisce about X, to expect Y, to compare Z. But at the end of the day, I’m learning that those actions are positive only if they help, not hinder, moving forward. Real talk  — that’s a tough thing to do.

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On San Francisco

San Francisco is a fickle love. Mark Twain wasn’t kidding when he said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. And it’s no joke that my feelings about this city are quite akin to the weather.

One day, San Francisco has clear blue skies and abundant sunshine, and the next, it’s chilly fog with moody winds abound. One day, I find myself loving San Francisco’s culture of hills, startups, and laid-back living.

The next, I’m dreaming about the fast-paced frenzy of New York and the challenge of big skyscrapers and even bigger dreams.

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This city is built upon polar opposites–clouds on top of sun; tech 20 somethings, homeless, and hipsters;  swanky bars and hole-in-the-wall taquerias.

It’s easy to think in versus, but I’m learning to give up comparison in favor of exploration. And in doing so, I’m starting to understand the shrouded in-between of Chapter One-and-a-Half. I’ve done my fair share of unintentionally getting lost but would be lying if I said it wasn’t with the intention of finding my own way here.

Sometimes that means solo city wandering, and other times that means Sunday mornings with pals. However, it always means pancakes thankyouverymuch.

Work at Google is equally interesting. Twice the experience, double the curiosity!

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As a two-time intern, I’m forever grateful for the experience I have under my belt. It guides trajectory and provides a baseline for workflow. At the same time, a second summer presents the challenge of reinvention. Faced with the comforts of complacency, it’s far too tempting to carry on with precedent.

But aaaaain’t nobody got time for that! Let’s all hope that’s considered a wise proverb someday. Royalty checks are more than welcome.

Slowly but surely, we’re finding new adventures, even the second-time around. Today, tomorrow, but certainly not yesterday.

Because good gracious, we know I’m not one to flirt with a safe bet.

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So this is summer as a I see it. We’re singing new tunes (even if it’s in the shower…)  and dancing like nobody’s watching (even if it’s nowhere near the caliber of Beyonce).

We’re drinking bottles of bubbly. Because we’re poppin’, and that’s our prerogative. We’re letting go of the idea that we’re not old enough or not bold enough. And we’re kicking sass and taking names.

And you know the best thing about it?

It’s just casual — you and me.

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